Wenger: Why I won’t speak publicly about my successor

Arsene Wenger.

Arsene Wenger would rather shout at the next Arsenal manager from behind the goal in the North Bank than help the club decide who should succeed him.

The French coach was quizzed on the qualities Arsenal should look for to replace him after Arsenal beat Burnley 5-0 in his 606th and final home game and 22 years in charge of the North London club.

But an emotional Wenger insisted his departure would be absolute and he would only try to influence the club as a fan after the end of the season.

He said: “I think it is better I don’t speak publicly about the next manager because I’m not involved in the story and I do not want to put any pressure on the club to choose this guy or this guy and give already a handicap to the guy who comes in because he has been chosen or it wasn’t my decision — I am nothing to do with that.

I just think he inherits a team that is much better than people think it is. I’m convinced, you can see the togetherness of this team is special and with the right additions this team will challenge next year.

Wenger admitted he had no idea what his next move would be or if he would even stay in football beyond the summer.

He mused: “I don’t know [what I will do]. I would be happy to sit in the North Bank. It depends whether I work somewhere else or not.

“What will I do in the job I do? Will I be free on the days Arsenal plays? I will be happy to be in the North Bank if you can offer me a ticket. If you have one, it would be fantastic. The positive of that [being a fan] is that I can shout at the next manager from the North Bank.

”No, you (the media) will be happy you have another face in front of you next season, a younger face.

“I have to deal with that. It is a story that ends and I see it in one way: Look, guys who managed 22 years a club of that stature, you have not many so I can only say ‘my friend you have been very lucky to have comfort to work for such a long time for a club of such stature.’ On the other hand, I have to think as well I cherish every minute I was here but it is a new start for me.”

Asked to reflect on his day, which included a post-match parade and being presented with the club’s solid gold Premier League trophy for winning the 2003-04 title unbeaten, Wenger revealed he had forced himself to ignore any self-regard during his 22-year reign.

He added: “Fortunately, in my job you learn to disconnect from yourself and you don’t analyse any more how you feel. For 20 years I told myself ‘okay, forget about you and care about the problems you have to sort out.’

When you have such a long time in the job and people ask you how do you feel, you think ‘why does he ask me that? I don’t know how I feel anyway.’ I have to learn to reconnect with myself now I have a bit more time.

“Sometimes, to make people happy you have to go somewhere else. I want to make people happy because I have a certain idea of how football is to be played. My ambition was always to win with style. When you’re a big club I think you have that responsibility and for the supporters to have a special experience when they come to the club.”

Expressing that he had lasted the pace by focusing on trying to make Arsenal fans happy, the only question he ducked was what made him happy.

Though it was clear when he was presented with a 2004 bottle of fine red wine on behalf of the press, he allowed himself a few more words about his enduring love for the game and admitted he would go to the World Cup in Russia and miss every minute of being at Arsenal — the good times and the bad.


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